Elf on a Shelf

It snowed a few days ago, and buckets of that white stuffed poured on us for a full day. While my daughter was home for a snow day, she decided that it was the perfect time to decorate for Christmas. In theory, it wasn’t a horrible time, but I had literally just taken down our Halloween decorations the day before and we still have pumpkins and cobwebs on the porch. My house is like a holiday mullet with pumpkins in the front and santa in the back. Plus, all day I had been laughing at memes on social media saying things like “Snow in November happens because people decorate for Christmas prematurely. You know who you are. Stop it.” Now all I can think is clearly these people are spying on me. Somehow I don’t think I’ll get any credit for hot days in April when I decorate early for the Fourth of July. Then again, my Christmas decorations may very well still be up well into spring.

Normally when I decorate, I put the same pieces in the same places, but apparently I am getting senile as well as acquiring more decor because I stood there looking at half empty bins strewn across my house, unable to remember where anything went. Meanwhile, mini me ran through the house randomly placing ornament stands and two foot tall sparkly trees on the piano bench and next to the toilets. Apparently she likes to feel festive when she pees. I found her and a half decorated tree by following the trail of glitter. At one point I even joined in, trying to set up a snowman in our guest bathroom, but my husband promptly put a stop to that by reminding me that my mother has literally close to 50 snowmen in her guest bathroom. It is so packed in there that it’s hard to even find the toilet, let alone the sink. I don’t know if it was my fear of becoming a hoarder or the idea that someone could potentially pee all over Frosty, but I cleared out the bathroom pretty quickly.

I eventually figured out what normally goes where and then moved things around for another two hours before I finally gave up and started dragging empty bins downstairs. When my little elf pranced in suggesting we get started on the tree I laughed right out loud. Magically, I have two shelves with no decorations and I somehow acquired a bag containing 150 ornaments that had a $4 price tag on it. Apparently I couldn’t pass up an after Christmas sale even though our tree is already at maximum ornament capacity. Luckily we just bought a new coffee table with a glass top and a shelf below that holds exactly 150 sparkly globes. I would normally try to convince my husband I had bought the bag of bulbs for this exact spot and I am clearly a genius, but he had just redirected me from placing a fluffy white snowman six inches from the urine zone, so I kept my mouth closed.

So once again, it looks like someone ran through my house with a fire hose shooting glitter, and I am in heaven. Everything is sparkly and shiny and I even found spaces for hundreds of ornaments. It’s finally time to light the balsam scented candles, although I feel like fall lasted about three and a half minutes. Maybe I’ll keep the multi-holiday theme going and light some leaves scented candles in the front rooms and balsam in the back. Tis the season!

*I wrote this while listening to The Interrupters

 

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Driving Miss Daisy

There are few things I enjoy talking about more than traffic. I would be a great traffic reporter with my added commentary on how badly people are driving all over the city.  I think a lot of people would be interested to hear about the asshole driving too slow in the left lane of the freeway or the guy who ran the red light in front of Starbucks and almost took out a gaggle of teenage girls in the crosswalk. When I talk to my husband on the phone while I am driving he often has to tell me to shut my pie hole about all of the horrific drivers surrounding me.

I am by nature a people watcher and I am fascinated by how much people struggle with simple things like spacial relations. In my mind, this kind of stuff is interesting to other people as well. I know I am mistaken, but I keep sharing my observations. Unfortunately, when I am not providing commentary on the highway happenings to my husband, I am sending him photos of cars parked askew as if they let their dogs attempt to drive. He gets pictures of the old men parked at the gym halfway between a handicap parking place and the sidewalk and the soccer moms at Target with their minivans overlapping two spots. The best photo I even sent him was a car on the front lawn of a home near my parents’ house. It looked as if the car was dropped from the sky or rolled into the yard. I had all kinds of crazy stories going in my mind to account for how this little blue car came to rest in the middle of a front yard.

My daughter is also a driving critic. She was backseat driving before she could talk. She has called out things like “green means go buddy” and “that lady can’t stay in her own lane” more than I would like to admit. She notices the same kinds of things I do and has almost as much commentary on it. One day a few months ago we witnessed one of the funniest driving incidents ever. We were at the library where they held a farmer’s market every friday sitting on a bench sharing some grapes as a car pulled into the lot and attempted to park about 20 yards from us. We watched as the female driver pulled into a handicap spot but instead of parking she drove directly over the sign standing at the front of the spot. Strangely, the sign sprung back up after she flattened it down into the pavement. The base of the sign was literally a spring so when the car passed over it, it flattened out and popped back into place. This was accompanied by a screeching sound as the metal sign scraped the bottom of the car. The woman proceeded through the parking lot and into another space as if nothing had happened. The only evidence that she was aware of what she had done was the flush of her cheeks as she walked past us into the farmer’s market. She looked around her as she got out of her car and saw about 50 people staring at her. I think I would have had to say something like “did you see that sign jump right out in front of me?” or something similar, but this lady just went about her business which leads me to believe it was not an unusual occurrence for her.

The best part about seeing this incident with my daughter was that she could go home and tell her dad all about it. She bounced in and giggled her way through the whole story. Not once did he tell her that he didn’t want to hear the traffic report like he does to me. He laughed along with her. I think we have a new traffic reporter in the house.

 

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Adventures on the High Seas (or something like that…)

It’s been awhile since I have written about our lake experiences. This isn’t because we haven’t had any, I have just been giving my dad a little break from the abuse I dish out when it comes to boat stories. But alas, there are too many stories to share about the captain and his high seas adventures, so my hiatus is over. If you are reading this, Old Man, just turn off the computer now and go back to watching ESPN or Sherlock Holmes, or anything else. Just avert your eyes from the screen if you can’t figure out how to turn off the computer. For future reference, you can just close the lid and this will all go away.

The first time I saw the boat this past summer it was being towed in by the neighbors. The same neighbors who come to the rescue every time we experience water related ineptness were pulling my dad’s boat as he sat on the bow. When they got close to shore the boat was cut loose and smoke billowed out behind it as my dad cranked on the engine to pull into the boat slip. The best part of this was that the lift sits too high in the water so he has to pull the boat in kind of fast or it doesn’t make it far enough onto the lift. It’s always an awkward maneuver the first few times each year and the smoking engine did not help matters. It literally looked like he was trying to jump the boat right over the dock as he pulled in. It was like a giant smoking cannon ball headed toward shore.

After the boat was successfully docked we realized that the company that had stored it all winter had either left it outside uncovered or had been allowing homeless people to sleep in it because the interior was filthy. Apparently “Skipper Bud” was smoking a lot of bud while caring for my dad’s boat. We had been informed that we couldn’t pick it up the week prior because they hadn’t done a final check on it yet. I guess they never got around to the final check or an initial check for that matter. Or maybe they were just too stoned to notice the smoke pouring out of the engine. It’s possible that they left the boat parked right in their driveway where we left it last fall, cashed my Dad’s check and immediately closed for the winter. Needless to say, we were all pretty annoyed as well as perplexed.

It took a few weeks to get someone to repair the boat properly and get us back on the water. But we finally did get back on the water, and every time out I looked forward to pulling back in to shore. This is because during every ride my jokes about my dad’s parking skills got better. I would like to say his parking skills got better as well, but they still remain questionable. Some of my better comments included:

“Maybe the 8 year old should give it a try. She can’t be much worse.”
“At least you didn’t hit the neighbors dock!”
“Maybe we should just leave it out here and swim back.”
“Your eyes are closed, aren’t they?”

It should be obvious to me by now why he tortures me with the work he asks for help with. I guess I would do the same if some little asshole kept terrorizing me. The difference is I would let that person know I was torturing them. He keeps trying to pass off all the work we do at the lake as bonding time. He says things like “if we didn’t have all this work to do, when would we spend this kind of time together?” I remind him that I’ll visit him plenty in the nursing home.

We took the boat back out of the water a few weeks ago along with the wave runners, the dock and the lifts. It was a two weekend process as usual and after doing the math, my husband and I discovered that we actually spent more time getting the boat in and out of the water than we did on the water this summer. This is not including the many joyous minutes of parking time spent drafting new material to poke at the Old Man. I would complain more but, but what can I say, I enjoy the bonding time.

I wrote this while listening to one of my all time favs!

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Freshman

I am a freshman, again. I am living proof that if you don’t get it right the first time, you can just keep going back and trying again. I have been a freshman a handful of times now. What can I say, I like school. That, or I like the idea of a profession much better than I actually like working, so I keep changing fields. I am sticking with the notion that I am just thirsty for knowledge and on a constant joyful quest to better myself.

I am in graduate school again and I am finally attending a school where my Dad received a large portion of his education. The Old Man went to half the schools in the state of Michigan. Are you picking up on a theme here? My Mom also has a number of degrees, so the whole idea of me going back to school now was not unusual in my family. In fact, everyone is pretty excited, except for my daughter who realized that my school schedule may cut into her ordering me around schedule. She likes me to be the one to put her to bed at night. I burn a candle in her room while she reads and fluff her pillow before I put her ice pack inside to keep her head cool. God forbid, her Dad forces her to brush her own hair. She was not as upset when she learned that I would be returning from school right before she dozes off at night. I can even tuck her in if I hall ass from downtown Detroit fast enough, which is typically not a problem for me, except I am a silly freshman who can’t seem to figure out the parking situation at my new school so it takes me about a half hour to get my vehicle onto Woodward.

Let me start by saying I did not drive my first time around in college. I mean, I drove, but rarely on campus. My car stayed put while I rode a bike to class as an undergrad. I didn’t do this because I was a fitness junkie. I did this because parking was a nightmare in East Lansing and if I drove onto campus, I would have spent the next three days trying to get my car out of impound. There was very little parking on campus and I was poor so I biked everywhere. When I went to graduate school afterward, it was at a small business college that had loads of parking around the one building it occupied. The school was literally smaller than my grade school in square footage.

So now, here I am back at a larger university, spanning almost 200 acres. I know this is really nothing to navigate after the 10,000 acres of campus from my undergrad years, but I am now a middle aged woman, and apparently with age comes forgetfulness, and forgetting where my classes are and where my car is are not foreign concepts to me. I have lost my car at the gym, the mall and even in a park once. I am no stranger to walking around looking confused. The thing is, I don’t really want to be doing this downtown. It might be misconstrued as an invitation to rob me. Also, since most students commute, there are parking structures and lots on almost every corner.

Knowing that I am often running late and forget where I left things like my car, I opted to purchase a parking pass. The thing is, you have to buy a pass for a specific lot. I looked at the map and purchased the pass for the lot closest to the building most of my classes are in. I coughed up a couple hundred bucks for said pass, but I figure that’s a small price to pay for being able to locate my car after every single class I attend. When I shared with my Dad that I had paid in advance for parking he shared with me that he used to get into the parking structure like everyone else, but when leaving he drove to one end of the lot and drove over the curb, over the sidewalk and onto the street without paying. Now I know why all of the new structures are completely enclosed. He started asking me about the lot I would be parking in and trying to devise an escape route when I disappointed him by telling him I was actually going to follow the rules on this rare occasion. Maybe after twenty years of schooling, fifteen years of marriage and a child I am finally growing up. That or I know nobody is going to bail me out after I get arrested for something stupid like jumping a curb to save a couple bucks in parking fees, except for my Dad and he never answers his cell phone.

The funny thing about this is that I actually almost had to jump the curb to get out of the lot during my second week of classes. I had been gaining access to the lot for a full week by using the intercom or flagging down parking garage staff since the scanner was not reading my tag which was sitting on my dashboard. My car’s rear view mirror does not allow for the tag to properly hang so I leave it on the dashboard and hold it up to the windshield as I drive up. I was pretty convinced my car was the problem and I would finally find the sweet spot to hold the tag after multiple attempts, but I never did. One of the people tying to assist me on the third day told me to back up and pull up again slowly, repeatedly until he was satisfied the tag wasn’t reading. Nightly, upon leaving I had to use the intercom to ask someone to lift the gate and release me. On one of these occasions, nobody answered my call for several minutes. I don’t know if I had caught the man on the other side of the little metal box on a potty break or if he was engulfed in a good book, but based on his demeanor when he did answer, he was not thrilled about being disturbed. By that point I had a line of about 10 cars behind me and literally no way out. I was seriously considering plowing through the gate or jumping the curb by the time Sleepy McCrabbypants finally lifted the gate.

One would think after that ordeal I would call the parking office to figure out what the problem was. One would be sadly mistaken and I would argue that one might not fully comprehend my ability to ignore a problem until it somehow solves itself. And a solution did present itself the next night when I was attempting to park. As usual I pulled up to the gate and was not admitted. I was beginning to feel like a dude standing outside of a club watching all the pretty girls being admitted and wondering when it would finally be my turn. I once again used the intercom. This time a younger female answered my call for help and instead of asking for my permit number she asked for my name. I swallowed the urge to shout “Tallula Lipshitz” and gave her my real name, fully suspecting that she just wanted to be able to share with her coworkers the true identity of the moron who couldn’t navigate pulling into a parking structure. But it was even worse than that. She calmly told me “you are in the wrong lot. Your permit is for lot 50. You are at structure 5.” I asked where lot 50 was and she almost laughed as she told me it was a few blocks away on the other side of the freeway. The thing is, I looked at a map when I bought the permit and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have thought running across a freeway would be fun before and after class. Then again, anything is possible with me.

When I applied to school again this time, I thought my biggest problem would be finding time to study. Now, three weeks into classes I am debating whether I should get a new seat on my bike to ride seventeen miles to class or recruit my Dad to teach me how to jump a curb without damaging the frame of my car. I guess I could always just call the parking administration and ask to have my permit changed to the structure I have been parking in for the last several weeks, but that seems like such a sophomore thing to do, and I’m a freshman.

*Of course I was listening to Milo Goes to College when I wrote this!

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That’s Your Opinion

I attended a charity fashion show last month where there was a purse auction. My mom, daughter and I all bid on purses in between sipping tea and scarfing down tiny cucumber sandwiches. Right before the end of the auction my mom actually outbid me on the purse I wanted just so she could buy it for me. She knew I wanted it, so she wanted to give me a gift. That, or she is just super competitive or has a bit of a spending problem. I’m not going to analyze her motivations, I got a great bag out of the deal.

When we came home my daughter was excited to tell her dad about the event. She was going on and on about how we “won” purses. As she was showing him the bags I butted in and said “actually, I didn’t win my purse, my mom outbid me and bought it for me!” to which he replied “You mean you PAID for that purse?!” I told him that technically my mom did, but yes, money was exchanged. He just shook his head as he turned the bag in circles, looking at it from every angle. He has since named it my Fraggle Rock purse. Apparently he thinks it’s ugly and reminds him of a cartoon character from his childhood.

I have now had this purse for about six weeks and have received no less than 20 compliments on it. Every time someone is on an elevator with me or passes me in the grocery store and compliments the bag I immediately text or call my husband to let him know. He asks things like “was it a blind woman?” “was she wearing crocs?” and “was it in that way that people tell parents with ugly babies how cute they are?” He clearly does not appreciate my purse. I have had a librarian call me back inside as I was exiting the library to tell me how pretty my bag is. I have also had a woman drive out of her way down an aisle in a shopping plaza to compliment my Mokey Fraggle. I couldn’t see either of their feet to check for crocs but they appeared normal enough. None of these women have been blind, elderly or wearing hospital gowns. One was even sporting the same Louis Vuitton purse I was carrying before swapping it out for Gobo. I know that my taste can be a little iffy, but in this case I now have scores of women agreeing that this is the cutest purse on the block.

My husband has more fun than he probably should teasing me about my choice of attire. I’ll admit I often dress like a teenage boy in sleeveless band t-shirts and ripped jeans. I also have a certain affection for plaid and anything with a hood. But most of my clothing is some shade of black, so the sheer amount of colors included in this handbag should have been call for celebration for my husband. I am not going to remind him of his ill-advised soul patch of the early part of the 21st century or his facial hair in general during our early courtship. I will also not point out that he wore only white socks for years. I am saving up all of my jabs for when he is elderly and wearing the same white socks with sandals or pajamas bottoms as pants. I am waiting until the day he buys a pair of loafers or a double breasted suit coat and then I am going to remind him of how he teased me about the work of art I carried on my arm. I’ll probably also be wearing pajama pants in public and possibly crocs by then so my words won’t mean much but I’ll be ready.

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